Patong

Patong (หาดป่าตอง Hat Patong) is the largest beach resort on the island of Phuket. This article also includes Kalim, a series of small beaches just north of Patong.

Understand

The south end of Patong Beach

Patong is a party capital of Asia, with a world famous nightlife and a great beach. Mostly made up of hotels, world-class restaurants, nightclubs and various tourist attractions, this is a hedonists' heaven, with numerous entertainment complexes and countless bars clustered together in and around Bangla Rd and Beach Rd. The town has a very obvious female, transgender, and male sex industry to cater to every taste, however to only view it as this is a mistake, it offers so much more, for families and couples too.

Massage parlors of the erotic as well the therapeutic (nuat Thai) genre provide less alcohol/drug infested venues for punters and wellness seekers. One can even find masseuses practicing this medical art atop bamboo mats on the beach sands (100 baht and up).

Prices are higher than in Phuket Town, but there's more budget accommodation here than at the more southerly beaches.

This may not be a good destination for the average backpacker, except in the rainy season when prices are far lower. However backpackers are not Patong's target market. It is fairly and squarely aimed at holidaymakers, and does it rather well.

Rooming houses ("mansions") a few blocks inland provide nice, clean air-con rooms and suites as cheaply as 300 baht/day (less without air-con), or 3,000-10,000 baht/month. However Patong has every type of accommodation imaginable, from home stays to palaces.

2004 tsunami

Beach Rd and its immediate surroundings were hit hard by the December 2004 tsunami. The only signs that remain are the "tsunami" titles on sale by local VCD/DVD vendors.

Orientation

Patong's three main axes are the aptly named Beach Road (Thanon Thawiwong) and Rat-U-Thit 200 Pi Rd (the last bit means "200 years" and is pronounced song roi bee) running parallel a few hundred metres inland, bisected at the midpoint by the world famous Soi Bangla. (For the sake of brevity, in this article it is called "Rat-U-Thit Rd". Running parallel to Beach Rd and Rat-U-Thit Rd about half a kilometre inland is Nanai Rd which is the residential expatriate area and has many cheaper guesthouses and hotels. The restaurants here tend to be cheaper as well, with beers to be found for 60 baht a bottle generally.

Between Nanai Rd and Rat-U-Thit is the bypass road. This road runs behind the huge Jungceylon shopping centre and past the local fresh fish and vegetable market, Baanzan (well worth a visit).

Get in

By plane

Phuket International Airport (HKT) is 35 km north of Patong. Limousines from the airport to Patong are a steep 600 baht (45 minutes). Meter-taxis are 400+ baht (from the meter-taxi stand at the airport. Ignore the touts and turn right as you exit the terminal). Shared minibuses are 180 baht. Tickets can be obtained immediately outside the terminal. The minibus will stop halfway to Patong to ask where you are staying and to sell you overpriced hotels and tours. A cheaper, but more time consuming, option is to take the comfortable air-con airport shuttle bus to Phuket Town (85 baht, 1 hour), and switch there to a local bus to Patong. See "By bus". Alternatively, if you know the right road, you can get off the bus after you pass the Big C shopping centre on the right (the airport bus goes to the left there, and the road to Kathu and then Patong is to the right at the same intersection), then catch a local bus to Patong there. Local buses to Patong are clearly marked in English and Thai.

By bus

Regular buses connect to Phuket Town (25 baht, 30-45 minutes) every 30 minutes or so between 07:00 and 18:00. The route starts from the southern end of the beach, after which the bus crawls through town (via Bangla Road), stopping to pick up passengers, before finally heading off across the hills, and going via Kathu, then passing near Big C before entering the Phuket Town.

In Phuket Town, those buses are usually waiting for passengers near the local market (1-1,5 km west from the Phuket bus station), however, some huge (almost bus-sized) songthaews marked "Phuket - Patong" were seen near Phuket bus station too. If you're coming by public bus from other areas in Thailand (like Bangkok or Surat Thani), as well as if using the airport bus, you will end up in this bus station. Local motorbike taxi drivers can and will offer fares like 40 baht to the market or 250 baht straight to Phuket - just walk (there's a city map in the terminal), bargain hard, or just wait for an arriving songthaew; even if he's not going to Patong, he will drop you to the bus station for no more than 20 baht, or probably 10 if there's more than 2-3 of you.

To get to the market from where the large songthaews go, turn right into Phang Nga Rd on leaving the bus station and walk to where the road ends. Turn left then right at the roundabout immediately after. Walk along this road and you will see them several hundred metres along. Choose the one to the beach you want.

The ones returning from Patong will arrive here, but if enough persons want to go to the bus station (in our case six persons) we were charged an extra 10 baht each and were dropped off there.

By hire car or van

"Limousine" usually refers to a larger sedan, such as a Toyota Camry, with leather seats, etc. They cost around 600-700 baht to go to Kata Beach. Considering the drive is about an hour long, this is one of the best options to get to Kata Beach.

Get around

Patong can (just about) be covered on foot, but there are plenty of taxis and motorbikes to get you around. The cost of these is one of the main down sides to Patong as they are unregulated and charge what they please.

Phuket has two types of taxi - millions (or so it seems) of small songthaew-style minivans (usually bright red, occasionally bright yellow), and very few conventional sedan-style taxis (yellow and red, with a "Taxi-Meter" sign on top).

The minivans have no meter, and their drivers are notoriously mercenary, so always agree a price beforehand and do bargain hard. Short hops typically cost 200 baht since the one-way street system was inaugurated.

For longer distances the metered taxis are generally cheaper.

Motorbike taxi rides within Patong start around 40 baht, though for any unwalkable distance you might find it hard to get a ride for less than 100 baht.

See

There are many sorts of beaches on Phuket. If one wants unspoiled and natural then Patong is not your kind of place, but there are many unspoiled beaches in the north and south of this beautiful island. Patong is for those of you who like a developed resort with a vibrant nightlife.

Beaches

Do

Massage

Scuba diving and snorkelling

Other

Learn

Buy

One of Patong's main attractions, besides the nightlife, is shopping. Patong Beach transforms into a large night bazaar every evening, when all the main roads become clogged with stalls selling handicrafts, silk scarves, sarongs and a variety of beach clothes, leisure wear, leather goods and luggage, CDs etc. Bargain hard for anything you buy from these stalls, as everything is negotiable in Patong and starting prices are often ridiculously high. Get a local to help you haggle rather than complain about it. Save yourself to bargain and overpay. Shopping at shopping malls in Phuket is a lot safer and cost effective. Price of a pair of sunglasses for example will be the same price as stalls on beach road (non-bargain).

Fake goods from the many stalls are all over the place. Quality is normally poor. The Thai government recently introduced a new law making it a criminal offence to buy or sell pirated goods. Although no cases involving tourists have been reported at the time of writing, the risk does exist that goods that violate intellectual property rights may be liable to confiscation at the airport.

Eat

This page uses the following price ranges for a typical meal for one, including soft drink:
Budget Under 100 baht
Mid-range 100-500 baht
Splurge Over 500 baht

Patong offers an amazingly cosmopolitan array of eating options, including Arabic, French, German, Indian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Russian, Scandinavian, and pretty much any country that sends tourists here. Prices are, however, generally inflated (at least by Thai standards). You can expect to pay about 150 baht for basic meals like fried rice unless you really hunt around. Seafood is priced by weight and is not cheap either. If you're looking for a good food court, visit Jungceylon (See Buy).

Mid-range

Splurge

Drink

Bangla Rd by day

Patong's nightlife spills out in all directions but the centre of the maelstrom is Bangla Rd and its four sois: Crocodile, Eric, Gonzo, and Seadragon, packed with a frenetic mix of pubs, beer bars, and go-go bars. Soi Crocodile is also known as Soi Katoey, a reference to its many transsexuals. There are also a couple of good nightclubs with dance floors, unusual in Thailand otherwise.

Drink prices in Patong can vary, sometimes wildly, between bars, even those right next to each other offering nearly identical atmosphere and patronage. Be on the look-out for drink specials, and do not be afraid to ask for a drink menu if it is not readily available.

Cabaret

Nightclubs

Sleep

This guide uses the following price ranges for a standard double room:
Budget Under 1,000 baht
Mid-range 1,000 baht to 2,500 baht
Splurge Over 2,500 baht

Accommodation is rather expensive during the peak season with simple air-con rooms ranging from 500-1,500 baht; fan rooms start around 300 baht but availability is limited. In the low season, air-con rooms are easily found from around 300 baht and up. You can usually get a better deal for the more expensive rooms by using one of the local travel shops. It pays to haggle with them.

Budget

Mid-range

Splurge

Go next

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Saturday, April 02, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.